FLEET Evolution founder and managing director, Andrew Leech, says the number of EV chargepoints in Westminster versus the rest of the country is a ‘national disgrace’.
Latest figures, as reported in a national newspaper, show that Westminster – with one of the most comprehensive public transport networks in the UK – has some 1,095 public chargepoints for electric vehicles. This is more than the number available in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle combined at 977.
Allegedly, the Government’s priority this year and for the rest of this Parliament is to ‘level up’ the country in terms of wealth creation, employment and opportunity, with a focus on bringing the north of the country into line with the south.
“But, at a time when many companies are looking to go electric to meet national and local sustainability targets, they are being held back by a lack of investment in public chargepoints across the north – and especially in our major northern cities which have some of the densest populations in the country.
“It does seem that, away from the Westminster bubble, there is again one rule for some and another rule for the rest of us,” said Leech.
The EV salary sacrifice and fleet management specialist carried out a survey in conjunction with Aston University which revealed that the factors that made people hesitate in making the transition to EVs, were 36% cost, 28% range anxiety and 25% lack of public charging. Charging infrastructure was an area where a lack of detailed knowledge was clearly apparent, with some 67% of those surveyed saying they did not live within five minutes of a public chargepoint.
Leech said while the figures were growing nationally, and with the Prime Minster announcing in November that up to 145,000 charge points are to be installed across the country each year through to 2030, it seems ludicrous that there is still such a huge disparity between north and south – especially when our survey showed that public charging was of such great concern to so many people.
“City councils need to step up to the plate and install the requisite infrastructure to support the growing numbers of EVs. Merely creating Clean Air Zones without offering sufficient chargepoints is simply kicking the can down the road,” he said.
Leech said that the cost of charging was also set to rise, given the Government’s recent decision to end the £350 grants that were available to install home chargers. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme grant will not be available to many homeowners in the UK from April.
The change means those who live in single-unit properties, such as bungalows, detached, semi-detached or terraced houses, will no longer benefit from a discount of 75% off the price of a domestic chargepoint, up to a maximum of £350. However, the scheme will remain open to homeowners who live in flats and those in rental accommodation.
“When you factor in the well-publicised rising cost of electricity from April, it’s clear charging costs are going to rise. The withdrawal of Government funding looks particularly ill-timed,” said Leech.
In an effort to help clients, Fleet Evolution is able to factor the cost of installing a home charger into clients’ monthly rental, so spreading the cost over the life of the lease. For businesses they are currently offering free installation of two-port chargers at the office car park of any customer with more than five of our cars on their fleet.
Meanwhile, Venson Automotive Solutions’ Operations Director Alison Bell, says companies who are looking to adopt cleaner fleets are now facing a ‘postcode lottery’ for the cost of charging an electric vehicle.
According to figures obtained by British Gas, 21 councils across England and Wales allow motorists to top up their batteries for free, yet in other areas drivers are charged up to £4 per kilowatt hour (kWh).
She agreed with Andrew Leech, saying: “The acceleration rate of installing charging points is clearly disproportionate across the UK as recent data published by the Department for Transport shows. It reported that some UK local authorities have bid for UK Government funding for charging devices, and others have not, with London benefitting from a much faster expansion of its charging infrastructure than any other region. Inconsistencies like charging point access, costs and even the way driver’s pay to charge their vehicles, are just creating further barriers.”
Public charge points for electric vehicles grew by 37% last year, yet the cost of charging and payment methods are far from cohesive across the country.
Recently the Association of Fleet Professionals announced a project to map the need for on-street charging using anonymised data from members.